Veterans find it difficult to relate


Illustration by Kendra Brisco

Veterans find it difficult to relate

When I was asked to write this opinion piece about veterans, I didn’t really know what to say that hasn’t already been said a million times before. How do you write something original and insightful about a subject that has been written about since the dawn of man?

All I can add to the volumes written by those who came before me is my own perspective as a veteran and former Marine.

“Those who came before me.” Those words have a deep meaning for those who served. Starting in boot camp, you hear about the exploits of soldiers whose boots you are now trying to fill. You hear about generations of men and women who sacrificed for this nation and its ideals.

Every generation in America has had its veterans returning home, from as far back as the Revolutionary War to World War II, Vietnam to Iraq and the countless battles in between. Through all these wars and years one divide remains; those who have never served will never fully understand those who have.

There is a mind-set that develops amongst those in the military and especially those who have seen combat. Firefighters and police officers develop something similar.

It’s a mind-set from doing a job where others count on you to perform under immense pressure again and again, and failure is not an option. It’s a mind-set that the civilian world calls macho, but it is really just kind of commonplace in the military and infantry units. Sometimes the mind-set comes from seeing and enduring terrible things and soldiering on.

Family members and friends often are left confused about why soldiers say and do certain things. They think we’re either bragging or lunatics. Ultimately, most soldiers are more comfortable with other soldiers, even those from a different war than the one they served in.

So as this Veterans Day approaches, keep this in mind. When you ask soldiers to explain why they act the way they do, you may get the simple reply, “Because.”

Because anything else we say, you wouldn’t understand anyway.

We are not trying to be rude. We honestly don’t know how to start the conversation.

  It’s too hard to explain.